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Halftime: George Mason 29, Towson 26

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RICHMOND – Credit to Towson for holding up so far as it plays its third game in as many days. The Tigers have actually enjoyed their greatest success while pestering George Mason into seven turnovers.

Trouble is, the Tigers are not rebounding. At all. Mason holds a 10-0 edge in second-chance points, and at some point the Patriots will manage to do even more with their extra opportunities.

What would help would be free-throw shooting, but anyone who has followed Mason this season knows that isn’t going to turn into a strength overnight. Still, the Patriots are 2-for-7 at the foul line, and it’s a trait that will kill them if they’re not careful over the next two nights.

Dre Smith has nine points for Mason, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to account for the margin at the midpoint. Mason seems flustered with the long Tigers’ pressure, and it’ll be interesting to see how Jim Larranaga counters that.

In short, Mason would be OK if it could hold onto the ball, keep Towson out of transition and make free throws. Consider those the second-half keys for the Patriots to advance to tomorrow’s title game against top-seeded Virginia Commonwealth.

Patrick Stevens

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